Opportunities and challenges applying gene editing to specialty crops

Nicholas J. Bate*, Christopher D. Dardick, Ruud A. de Maagd, Robert W. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The recent development of gene editing has generated a lot of excitement for the future of crop improvement. At a technical level, targeted gene modification through gene editing (GE) provides an opportunity to build on natural variation to target genetic changes for the creation of new varieties, crops, and market opportunities. Specialty crops, represented by hundreds of plant species, are poised to take advantage of GE and provide solutions to impact traits of importance to the consumer (such as flavor and nutrition), the environment (such as reducing waste, and transport distances), and the farmer (yield and pest/disease resistance). However, many specialty crops face challenges to implement GE such as complex uncharacterized genomes, polyploidy, and long breeding and production cycles. A small number of specialty crops such as tomato are already taking advantage of GE and can represent a blueprint for continued improvement of important specialty crops some of which have gone for centuries without significant genetic improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)709-719
JournalIn Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology - Plant
Issue number4
Early online date20 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Editing
  • Fruit
  • Tomato
  • Vegetables


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